Detroit Lions vice chairman and trust fund baby Bill Ford..."/> Detroit Lions vice chairman and trust fund baby Bill Ford..."/> Detroit Lions vice chairman and trust fund baby Bill Ford..."/>

Reading between the lines: Junior meets the press


Detroit Lions vice chairman and trust fund baby Bill Ford Jr. met with the beat writers over the weekend. As is my wont, I read between the lines of the transcript, and tell you what Junior was really thinking…

Um, yeah. I had to sell the Rolls. And the Bentley.

Same with the Jag. Even the Lincoln and the Mustang.

This is cool though, right?

• About the direction of the team and head coach Rod Marinelli:

“This is clearly Rod’s team and it shows. He’s got the guys he likes and he’s got them in shape. He’s got a big smile on his face and I haven’t seen that before.”

Rod? He’s all I got, as dad won’t fire you know who.

• About fans being able to see it for themselves:

“I go by how Rod is feeling and he’s very pleased. But it’s early in camp. We’re all going to reserve judgment. One thing that’s very clear — and I was talking to (veteran cornerback) Brian Kelly about this — this is very much the group that Rod wants to move forward with. And I think that says a lot.”

The fans aren’t stupid. Well, most of them aren’t. Spend any time on Mlive, and you’ll wonder. Did I tell you we have Rod, and this is his group? Because it isn’t Millen’s. Really, it isn’t!

• What about the economics of it and the sluggish ticket sales?

“Actually, they’re not sluggish. They’re actually doing quite well. I was just talking to Bob Raymond, who is our head of ticket sales. This is obviously not a wonderful time in southeastern Michigan but we’re pleased with where we’re at and we’re actually selling quite a few season tickets every day.

(Chief operating officer Tom Lewand said the Lions are actually ahead of their season ticket sales from last season, at this point.)

The days of selling out every game are, to quote Ernie Harwell, looooong gone. Tickets are still available, which wasn’t the case even a year ago. But hey, the Lions are doing better than Ford Motor! Then again, GM and Chrysler are doing better than Ford Motor. Actually, the remnants of Bear Stearns are doing better than Ford Motor.

Just between you and me…I’m selling my soon to be worthless Ford stock to Carl Icahn and Kirk Kerkorian, and heading to Bermuda. Wanna come with? Oh, I can a bum a couple of bucks for some smokes? I can pay you back…Tuesday. Yeah, Tuesday.

• Are you concerned that Ford Field might have a television blackout this year for the first time?

“Well, it’ll happen some day. But I think a lot of it will depend on how the team’s doing and the start we get off to. I think the early games will be fine, it’s the games later in the season … if we’re in the hunt, people will want to see us.”

Did I say “If we’re in the hunt?” I meant “WHEN” we’re in the hunt! WHEN! Oh God, what did I do? Did I just jinx us?  Shit.

• On Marinelli bringing in “his” guys:

“I think he was holding his breath, saying, ‘OK, I brought you guys in here, now let’s see it.’ I think he’s very pleased with how it’s going. Now, having said that, it’s not exactly polished yet. I wasn’t at this morning’s practice but I heard sometimes it was a little ragged. But that’s to be expected in training camp, that’s why you have it. This is not the time for a lot of hype, it’s the time to go out and prove it. There’s a lot riding on Rod’s shoulders right now.

“We’ve got to win, that’s the name of the game. The expectations for this team is that they will win. You have to go into each season believing you’re going to win — and winning a championship is the goal. It has to be the goal.”

Actually, Rod was holding his breath till he turned blue in the face, and passed out. Then he’s do it all over again. I think it’s a trick he learned it when he was in Special Forces, the French Foreign Legion, or COBRA, something like that. I didn’t want Rod to burst a blood vessel and have an aneurysm, so I said, “Fine, you can have all the Bucs you want. But don’t do it again!”

We’ve got to win. But if we win, then that means Millen stays. So we shouldn’t win. But we need to win, but then Millen is still here…My head hurts.

Win or Fire Millen, you make the call.

• Are you aware of the fans’ feelings?

“Of course I am. I’m incredibly frustrated with how things have gone, but I do think this being Rod’s team and his kind of character, I like where we’re at going into the season.

“If we get off to a good start and play exciting football, the fans will get behind us. If we don’t, then they won’t.”

No, I’m not.

• What happens if you don’t make the playoffs this year?

“I’m not getting into that, I’m not getting into any ‘what ifs?”’

Playoffs? Don’t talk to me about playoffs! Are you kidding me? Playoffs? I’m just hoping we can win a game, another game!

• What gives you hope, why do you think this is the right approach?

“Because football is ultimately a team game. The difference in talent of teams in the NFL isn’t very large. Over the years that I’ve seen it, the teams that do well are well-integrated teams who have been together for awhile and understand what they’re doing as a team and I think Rod is pointing (toward) that now. That’s what gives me hope. We really have — it appears — all the coaches and all the players on the same page, buying into Rod’s program.

“That gives me real faith going into this season. We haven’t had that in the past. We’ve had some talented players but they were often either selfish or didn’t buy into what the coach was espousing.”

Hope? Faith? We could use a little charity, actually. You see what Ford stock is going for right now?

This is Rod’s team you know, not Millen’s. It’s…All…On…Him. Hope. Faith. Former Bucs. Making Millen irrelevant. Everything. It’s ALL on him. ALL OF IT.

• You’ve tried different approaches and you’ve felt good before:

“Yeah, but I feel very good about our coach — I think I’ve made that very clear. And because I feel good about the coach, I feel good about the fact he has the kind of players he feels he can win with.”

Different approaches? I guess. Let’s see…Since I’ve been old enough to get involved, we had a listless dope in Daryl Rogers. A clueless clown in Wayne Fontes. A screaming drill sergeant in Bobby Ross. A used-to-be in Gary Moeller. A moron in Marty Mornhinweg. A slick used car salesman in Steve Mariucci. A retread in Dick Jauron. Now we have Rod.

Yep, we’ve tried about every damn approach you can think of. But Rod’s gonna be different from all the rest! He’s even told me as such!

• Has it been frustrating that it took Marinelli three years to get this done, that the roster was in such bad shape when he took over?

“Listen, I’ve been very frustrated with the performance of the team for many years so, yes. I’ve been extremely frustrated and disappointed — not in Rod, but in the performance of the team. But I have great faith in Rod.”

As long as the money keeps rolling in from the NFL, the TV contract and the suckers…I mean, the fans, what’s to be frustrated about?

Did I tell you Rod’s our man?